This is a school where students’ voices are heard and acted upon. They are empowered to take responsibility for their learning and shape the overall learning experience. They are encouraged to develop leadership abilities, become an independent thinker, take risks and learn from mistakes, and collaborate with others. SMS girls are used to stepping into leadership roles because it is part of their everyday experience.
Our teachers and staff are facilitators and supporters; they offer guidance and encouragement, but it is our students who take action and lead school initiatives. Student clubs, school assemblies, lunchtime intramurals, the spring production, fundraising activities and environmental programs are all led by our students. By the end of the school year, it is our Kindergarten students who lead the school assembly – leadership is simply part of our school culture.
Our small-scale learning environment offers many opportunities for girls to lead, collaborate and contribute to our school community. Many of our programs are designed to provide girls with authentic leadership experience, including school clubs, athletics, the Big Sister/Little Sister Program, outdoor education, the Duke of Edinburgh Award, community service projects, and the House System.
Students do not need to be elected or appointed to be a leader; every student has opportunities to lead and each girl becomes a leader in her own way – leadership is not always about being out in front, but also in being the thoughtful supporter.
So much about leadership can be learned while working on projects one is passionate about and where the support of others is critical for success. Much of our Leadership Program is focused on service; students study leadership skills and then apply them while working to change our school and our community for the better.
Our Leadership Program includes dedicated leadership courses in Grades 7-12:
Students are introduced to leadership concepts through exercises in communication skills, self-reflection and teambuilding. They use their skills to contribute positive change to our school community, our campus and our environment: they act as mentors to junior school students, set-up and manage the School’s recycling and composting programs, compete in the Green Games, implement an awareness campaign of their choosing, and participate in a small business venture, following Junior Achievement guidelines.
As students progress through the Leadership Program, they begin to think beyond our school community and about the broader community in which we live. Students complete independent research of a local not-for-profit they are passionate about and present it to their peers. Together the class selects an organization to support throughout the year and organizes school and community fundraisers. Students learn to identify leadership qualities in themselves, other people and community organizations.
In senior leadership classes, students study leadership within the context of our global community. They engage in activities that support people in other countries and learn that, even from very far away, they have the power to impact the lives of others for the better. Students also become more self-directed in their leadership roles. They identify organizations and causes they are passionate about, and pursue independent leadership within our community, outside of class time.
Throughout the Leadership Program, students learn to apply principles of leadership in individual and team situations both within class and independently. They begin to see that they have the power to have an impact, advocate, and present logical solutions, and they develop the desire and the skills to make a difference to themselves, their communities, and to the world.